by Vince Brusio
If you flipped to the Archaia sub-section within BOOM! Studios listings in the August PREVIEWS, you saw that one of the Featured Items touted was Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow OGN HC (AUG141177). The listing may have given you pause, and for good reason. This book represents an unknown piece of the Jim Henson legacy. And tapped to make the property come alive was Snarked and The Muppet Show creator Roger Langridge. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, Langridge elaborates on the nature of this project, and what it will mean to Jim Henson fans.
PREVIEWSworld: For those not familiar with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, how would you explain the story’s concept, and appeal?
Roger Langridge: The concept is pretty simple at its heart: a motley group of creatures from outer space help a boy find friendship and self-confidence before the whole lot of them try to save his Aunt's turkey farm from being taken over by a curmudgeonly old miser. Along the way there are various colorful characters, some fun set-pieces, and (if I've done my job right!) plenty of laughs and a few plucks at the ol' heartstrings.
PREVIEWSworld: How did you get involved in this project? Is this something that’s long been on your “to do” list?
Roger Langridge: I guess I was originally approached because of my previous Henson-related work on The Muppet Show comic book and Archaia's Storyteller anthology. The nice folks at BOOM!/Archaia asked me if I'd be interested, I said yes, and we got to work. It was that simple!
As for whether it's long been on my "to-do" list, I'd never heard of the project before it was offered to me, so no, I can't honestly say it was. But I'm always happy to revisit Jim Henson's world. It's been good to me and I hope I've been good to it.
PREVIEWSworld: What’s your attraction to The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow? How does it challenge you differently than work you’ve done on, say, The Muppet Show?
Roger Langridge: This book definitely stretched a different set of writing muscles from those I was using on The Muppet Show books because it's a single long narrative as opposed to a bunch of sketches loosely strung together. The humor is more subtle, growing organically from the characters rather than being gag-based. The characters themselves are totally new to readers, so I can't rely on any lingering familiarity to get them across; I had to be a lot more traditional about establishing who they were, what they wanted, and what everybody's relationship was to everyone else. So, yes, definitely a different set of challenges.
The artwork too, had to be a little bit more grounded in reality (although my natural style is kind of irrepressible, so it still definitely looks like I drew it!). But there was a fair amount of research involved to make the environment reasonably believable, which was never really an issue in a vaudeville theatre populated by glove puppets.
PREVIEWSworld: Without spoiling the book, what scene(s) would you blog about/display to be representative of the book’s magic?
Roger Langridge: Well, the magic is for others to judge! But I'm very pleased with how we managed to navigate the central problem of how to get music across in a purely visual medium. It was a part of the story that couldn't really be avoided or glossed over—it's right there in the title—so the colorist, Ian Herring, and I tried to use color as a kind of visual metaphor for music. I'm really, really pleased with how that worked out. Those scenes not only communicate some of the musical energy implied in the story, but work in such a way that they're pure comics, too. The way we've done it simply wouldn't work on screen. So, yes, I'd pick those.
PREVIEWSworld: If people want to talk to you more about this project, are you able to correspond with them through any social media sites?
Roger Langridge: I'm on Twitter—my name there is @hotelfred. I'm not super-active there, but I always try to respond to any direct questions.